Cubs

NBC Sports Chicago launches Outside the Ivy, interactive Cubs show by fans

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago launches Outside the Ivy, interactive Cubs show by fans

Chicago, IL (May 20, 2019) – Following the launch of its first fan-hosted/fan-interactive postgame program, “Bulls Outsiders,” NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – has announced it will debut Outside the Ivy presented by Supercuts, a brand new, half-hour, live, multi-platform, viewer-interactive Cubs postgame show that will provide viewers with the hottest takes and spirited commentary from the fans' perspective. 

Hosted by three, die-hard Cubs enthusiasts – Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami), Danny Rockett (@SonRanto), and Luis Medina (@lcm1986), Outside the Ivy will make its network debut following NBC Sports Chicago’s telecast of the Cubs vs. Philadelphia Phillies game on Wednesday, May 22 (approx. 10:30 PM CT).  The show will air immediately following Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois on NBC Sports Chicago, via live stream to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, through social media on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), and via the new “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app (Fans located anywhere in the U.S. can download MyTeams for free on iOS and Android devices in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store). 

Throughout the season, NBC Sports Chicago’s cross-platform presentation of Outside the Ivy will air immediately following Cubs Postgame Live on nights the network carries a 7:00 PM start time Cubs telecast (approx. 10:30 PM), along with a few select 6:00 PM game time starts, plus – fans can also look forward to additional special editions of Outside the Ivy for the Cubs-White Sox “Crosstown” series, All-Star break, MLB trade deadline, and a season-end recap among others.  

In addition to the lively post-game discussion with the show’s hosts, Outside the Ivy will also emphasize heavy viewer interaction via fan engagement on a number of the network’s social media platforms including Twitter (@NBCSCubs; fans urged to utilize the Twitter hashtag #OutsidetheIvy in their posts) and Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), which will enable Cubs fans to directly interact with the show’s hosts (and each other) with comments and questions pertaining to that particular evening’s game, the key topics of the night, or anything else they want to discuss from a league-wide MLB perspective. 

In preparation for the hiring of the program’s three primary hosts, NBC Sports Chicago reached out to numerous notable local (and vocal) die-hard Cubs fans who stood out among the vast Cubs social media community. Candidates who responded back with interest were simply asked to shoot a 90-second video on their phone and offer up their take on a recent Cubs topic of interest.  From there, over 30 top candidates were narrowed down to nine, who were then all brought in for in-studio auditions. Following the lengthy on-camera process, Director of Studio Content John Schippman and Multi-Platform Director Michael Allardyce finalized their decision and welcomed Cerami, Rockett, and Medina to the NBC Sports Chicago family.  

Please note the following Outside the Ivy host bios:

Michael Cerami Chicago Cubs blogger for “Bleacher Nation”

Age: 27
Hometown: Schaumburg, IL
Favorite Cubs player of all time: Starlin Castro
Favorite current Cub: Anthony Rizzo 
Favorite Cubs moment: “When Javier Báez stole home in the 2016 NLCS!”

Danny RockettHost of the Son Ranto Podcast, Front man for ‘The Bleacher Bum Band,’ and blogger for SB Nation’s ‘Bleed Cubbie Blue’

Age: 44
Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL                            
Favorite Cubs player of all-time: Andre Dawson
Favorite current Cub: “Javy Báez, but Willson Contreras is a real close second. I love catchers.”
Favorite Cubs moment: “It has to be World Series Game 7, right? I went to that game in Cleveland, just an amazing night on so many levels.”

Luis MedinaCubs blogger for “Bleacher Nation”

Age: 31
Hometown: Chicago, IL                            
Favorite Cubs player of all-time: Sammy Sosa
Favorite current Cub: Javy Báez
Favorite Cubs moment: “World Series Game 5. I was at the game and got to see the Cubs win a World Series game at Wrigley Field.”

PROGRAMING NOTE:  NBC Sports Chicago’s next Cubs telecast takes place TONIGHT as the northsiders host Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies, featuring the highly-anticipated starting pitching showdown between the Cubs YU DARVISH against former Cubs standout/2015 NL Cy Young award winner JAKE ARRIETA.  Live coverage gets underway with Baseball Night in Chicago at 6:30 PM with game coverage starting at 7:00 PM.  This game will also stream live on NBCSportsChicago.com and on the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app. 

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Cubs release 30 minor leaguers, contribute to massive cuts across baseball

Cubs release 30 minor leaguers, contribute to massive cuts across baseball

 

The Cubs have released 30 minor league players, NBC Sport Chicago learned on Thursday, contributing to a massive wave of cuts across baseball.

According to a post on Brock Stewart’s verified Twitter account, the Illinois native was among those who the Cubs released  on Thursday. The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher was a non-roster invitee at Spring Training this year.

“Just got that call a little bit ago,” Stewart’s post read. “Very tough to hear and realize. I’m not done though. I’m ready to go. I’ll be ready whenever. I have worked hard and got better. This bulls**t will not get the best of me.”

Stewart quote-tweeted a report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, which said across baseball, teams released “hundreds” of minor league players on Thursday. More cuts are expected, with the contraction of the minor leagues and the cancellation of the MiLB season likely on the horizon.

Many of the Cubs' cuts would have been part of the usual spring training process of finalizing the roster. But MLB shut down campus two weeks before scheduled season openers, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Cubs' releases this week were in line with the majority of the industry, supporting Passan’s report that “upward of 1,000” players could be let go. 

NBC Sports Chicago confirmed that the Cubs have committed to paying weekly stipends to their minor leaguers though at least June, a month longer than required. That includes the players who were released Thursday. The Athletic was the first to report the continuation of Cubs farm system stipends.

In reponse to the coronavirus pandemic, all 30 MLB teams had agreed to pay minor leaguers $400 weekly stipends though May. While at least 10 teams, including the Cubs, are reportedly committed to extending pay through June at a minimum, the A’s notified their minor leaguers this week that their stipends would stop after May 31. It is unclear how many teams will continue to pay the players that they released. But according to a report by The Athletic, the White Sox will also provide the 25 minor leaguers that they have cut with stipends through at least June.

Gordon Wittenmyer contributed to the reporting of this story.

How the Cubs became unwilling symbols in union's fight against MLB owners

How the Cubs became unwilling symbols in union's fight against MLB owners

The Cubs found themselves Thursday at the center of rising tensions in the fight between owners and the players union over terms to play an abbreviated 2020 season during the coronavirus crisis — held up as a symbol of mistrust by the game’s most powerful agent.

In an email to clients obtained by the Associated Press, agent Scott Boras urges players to stand firm on the prorated-salary agreement with MLB struck in March and reminded them of record industry revenues and team valuations that were not reflected in salaries in recent years.

Boras used the heavily-leveraged Ricketts family purchase of the Cubs in 2009 and the family’s subsequent investment in Wrigley Field renovations that he also tied to debt financing in AP’s reporting of the email, which was confirmed by NBC Sports Chicago.

“Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans,” Boras wrote in the email. “However, the end result is that the Ricketts[es] will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players.”

Recipients of the email were asked to “please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB request[s] further concessions or deferral of salaries.”

A Ricketts representative pushed back on Boras’ claim.

“The Ricketts family invested $750 million to save iconic Wrigley Field for fans today and for future generations. At every level they’ve built the best player facilities in the game,” Dennis Culloton said. “In 2019, the Cubs had one of the top baseball payrolls in the game. The fact of the matter is 70 percent of the team’s revenues which support the baseball operations come from having fans at the ballpark.

“Nevertheless, we thank Mr. Boras for weighing in.”

The Cubs were one of three teams to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold last year and carried a projected payroll into 2020 assured of exceeding it again, barring in-season trades of significant contract obligations.

Boras has talked publicly often in the past decade about the industry issues he raised in the email, including in relation to the Cubs.

It’s also not the first time the Cubs have been at the center of controversial issues during that time. Primarily as a response to new CBA restrictions on amateur signings and to the team’s heavy debt-management costs, the Cubs helped provide the modern-day tanking blueprint now widely in use — the first big-revenue team in the free agency era to use tanking to rebuild.

In this case, the Cubs example raised by Boras comes only two days after Tom Ricketts’ interview with CNBC in which the Cubs chairman suggests the club will make only 20 percent of normal revenue in a “best-case scenario” if an abbreviated season is played.

MORE: Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts: 'We’d definitely like to see baseball back'

Ricketts also estimated team losses include a 70-percent share of total revenues tied solely to stadium attendance.

Some have disputed his numbers — although few dispute the perfect-storm nature of this crisis as it relates to a big-market franchise that expected to start seeing a return on its sizable investment in a new TV network with a 2020 launch.

But owners, who have enjoyed a federal antitrust exemption for more than 100 years, never have opened their financial books to the union and as recently as 2016 and 2017 sold off its BAMTech streaming enterprise to Disney for more than $2 billion — resulting in $50 million payouts to each owner in 2017.

Counterintuitively, the next two free agent winters were the slowest since the collusion winters of the 1980s. And the average major-league salary dropped in consecutive seasons (2017-18) for the first time since the union began tracking salaries more than 50 years ago.

On Tuesday the owners proposed a sliding-scale formula for deeper salary cuts to play roughly half of a normal season — a proposal the union called “extremely disappointing.”

By Thursday the union still had not settled on what it might include in any potential counterproposal, much less when it might present one.

“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote in the email to clients. “Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.”

On the issue of industry debt that could be impacting the kind of liquidity that might otherwise help owners withstand the crisis, Boras added:

“Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision. But these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises, and players are not the ones who have benefitted from the recent record revenues and profits.”

One report Thursday suggested at least some owners would rather not play this season for fear of losing more money by playing an abbreviated season than not.

Ricketts does not appear to be in that group, saying during that CNBC interview the Cubs “definitely” want to get back on the field this year.

Part of the union’s position on sticking to the prorated-salary agreement from March involves owners’ continued unwillingness to provide enough financial documentation to support their claims of projected losses.

Said Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s executive board and a Boras client, in a tweet Wednesday night:

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a second pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.

"I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

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